Black Forest Inn, Minneapolis MN

Art at The Black Forest Inn

A tour of the Objects d'Art & etc.
...things hanging on the walls, off the walls and off the wall things...

Click on each thumbnail to see a larger image.

iron lamp

Before you walk in the door,
you will see on the outside of the building:



castle mural

on the west facing side of the restaurant
This castle is a real castle in Mespelbrunn, Germany. It is currently inhabited. It was formerly the summer palace and the hunting lodge of the Bishop of Würtzburg. It is south of Würtzburg, in the Odenwald. There was a movie filmed there called Das Wirtzhaus in Spessart. The building's exterior including the mural was designed by local design legend and great friend of the Black Forest, Jack Barkla.

on the north side of the parking lot
Painted by Mike Lynch. It is meant to blend in with the existing trees. For more about Mike Lynch see below.

Goethe poem over windows

over the windows facing 26th Street and Nicollet Avenue

How beautiful nature appears to me / How the sun shines / How the valley laughs...
~ from Mailied (May Song) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


bronze deer head sign

hanging on the corner of the building
The deer head is a collaborative effort in bronze by Bruce Thomas and Mike Lynch



nature scene painting

above and to the east of the entrance on 26th Street
Painted by Mike Lynch. He also painted the panels above and below the windows of the banquet space.


brick arch

over the front door
The brickwork arch was designed and constructed by the late Dale Dettman.


When you walk in the door you are standing in the smaller dining room. You will see:

Tiffany light fixture

over the tables
These fixtures came to the restaurant in February, 1997. They are reproductions of a Tiffany design called "Rosebush". We bought them from what is supposedly the remnant of the Tiffany company in California.

As a historical figure, Tiffany is a bit of a mystery. He used his own designs and frequently colored his own glass for his lamps. He took no students and guarded his recipes and methods very jealously. He was the first to use the "foil method" in glassmaking. Until then, lead was the only metal people considered adding to glass. The Kokomo Glass company in Indiana was his source for most of his glass. They are still in operation and provide the glass for Tiffany reproductions.

Frank Stone light fixture

over the front waiting area
This fixture was put together by Frank Stone, a local artist who now has a gallery in Northeast Minneapolis. It's been a part of our décor for over 30 years.
For more information see: Frank Stone Gallery

All the decorative painting you see on the ceilings, on the hutch and on the bar was done by Judith Kjenstad. She is a local decorative painter who specializes in rosemahling and bauernmahlerei. She is the artist who painted the fantastic mural on the outside of Ingrebretsens shop on East Lake Street.

Dining room panels

above the booths
Designed by an art student in the 1970s and made by Frank Stone. These windows have really stood the test of time!


Panel detail by Jack Barkla

above the stained glass windows
Jack Barkla, a frequent contributor to the Black Forest interior and exterior design, painted these panels for us. He based the characters on Schwäbisch mythology and included some Teutonic elements in their costuming. These little elves can be called Heinzelmännchen (pronounced HINE-tzel-MEN-chen). They are good little elves, industrious helpers. The story of the shoemaker's elves is typical of these little men.

coffee sign

a coffee pot, coffee cup, and wine glass
This sign was made in the traditional style for the Restaurant Lorelei. It used to have the word "café" hanging below it but we kept hitting our heads on it so we removed it.


on the south wall of the small dining room
From left to right: Wiener Schnitzel at the Black Forest, Apple Strudel at the Black Forest and Bratwurst and Sauerkraut at the Black Forest. All the drawings were done by the late Bernie Quick around 1980 while he was teaching at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He later gave the drawings as a gift to the restaurant. Mr. Quick is well known for his watercolor and oil paintings.

with cobblers' tool and auto parts
The sculpture is one of several in the restaurant by renowned metal sculptor Charles Huntington. He is a longtime friend of the restaurant and contributor to the ambience and décor.

dividing the bar area from the small dining room
These windows are done in the traditional style. They were commissioned by the Black Forest Inn when this bar was built. It was built at the same time as the beer garden (the bar used to face the other direction and there was a little dining area where the bar is now).

SMALL PHOTOGRAPH OF A CITY STREET, around the turn of the 20th century
hanging under the clock
This is a photograph of Mannheim, the birthplace of co-owner Erich Christ (though he was not born at the turn of the century).

If you sit down at a table in the large dining room you will see:

in the middle of the dining room
These are from the University of Minnesota Walter Library and are identical to the fixtures in the bar (see above).

castle shield bear shield lion shield 3 lions shield blackbird shield horse shield





These shield designs are based on traditional German city and state shields. They were created and painted by Jack Barkla. Going clockwise around the room starting with the bear: the shields are from Berlin (the bear); the Rheinland-Pfalz (tri-panel with a cross and a lion); Hessen (red and white striped lion); Baden-Württemberg (three lions); Brandenburg (the black bird, also representing Deutschland. Frankfurt has a bird of similar design on its flag and Austria has a black bird on its flag as well. The free State of Bavaria has a black eagle with a cross); Niedersachen (the horse); your author does not know which states or cities have the griffen or the seven stars as their flag; Schleswig-Holstein (the two lions and the splat); another bird with symbols on it which is a mystery to your author; and finally, Bremen (the key). Your author has deciphered these as well as can be expected and will happily entertain counter speculations about the possible origins and interpretations of the shields.

griffin shield key shield tri-panel shield eagle with cross shield seven stars shield





The younger brother of the deer head in the bar. Every year we try to put a big red nose on him for Christmas and every year it falls off.

These panels were painted for us by Jack Barkla. They were painted for and hung in the Restaurant Lorelei until the restaurant closed. Each scene is an actual place in Germany, though we have only identified one location. Actually, it was identified for us by August Kesseler, a world-renowned wine maker visiting from Germany. He saw the panels and exclaimed that one of the scenes was his town, Asmanshausen, on the Rhein river. Your author would be very glad to hear from you if you can identify any of the other locations.

The clock also does not work

The clock does work – though months can go by in which we never hear the chimes because it's never quiet enough around here! We bought the clock from Tom Ahlstrom – a famous personage in Pepin, Wisconsin. He and partners Paul and Carol Hinderle started and ran for many years the Harbor View Café. Tom Ahlstrom is a former employee, longtime friend and loyal customer to this day!

high on the wall above the booths in the alcove
These birds contain no arsenic.

above the thermostat
It says "Mannheim" on it.

mural detail

on the south wall in the alcove
This is a scene from a 19th century version of Act 1, Scene 1 of Parzifal, an opera by Richard Wagner. It was painted in 1971 by Jack Barkla. It was originally in two panels that converged on a corner. When remodeling was done which enlarged the alcove area the painting was resituated to be one continuous picture. The painting has suffered some water damage.

If you are a longtime customer, you may recall seeing:

Many other prints, both antique and modern, on many subjects. Many of them came from the Holzermann collection (see above). Some came from "a man with a stack of prints" and from old German calendars.

If you head over to the bar area, you will see:


over the bar seating area
These lamps came from the University of Minnesota Walter library. When the library didn’t want them anymore, an antique dealer suggested them to us. We've had them for 35 years and they are now associated more with us than with the library! There are two identical fixtures in the large dining room.

Artist and friend of the Black Forest Mike Lynch painted one of these fixtures in oil for us in the 1980s. We featured an image of his painting on postcards that we gave away for many years. The painting sometimes hangs in the large dining room. Mr. Lynch usually works in oil or watercolor and his work is in many local collections. He was the recipient of the 2003 McKnight Foundation Distinguished Artist award. The book they printed about Mr. Lynch and his work is available HERE as a free .pdf download.

high on the east wall
The institutional memory does not include the provenance of this clock. Additionally, this clock does not work. A millennium ago, we would not have needed this clock anyway. Time as we know it was more or less invented by monks. Monks pray regularly and it used to be that one monk would call the others to prayer with a gong or bell. Soon a monk (or several) masterminded a gong which went off at regular intervals all by itself. The first mechanism probably depended on water. Though it was nowhere near the same time every day, it succeeded as an idea and soon some inventive monk (or several) created the spring mechanism which is still the basis for all non electric clocks. The cuckoo is simply a variation on the gong.

Avedon photo

on the north wall of the bar area
This is the famed and infamous Richard Avedon photograph of the Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution. It is inscribed and signed in the lower left corner of the photo. Mr. Avedon gave this photo as a gift to the neighborhood – the Black Forest Inn was picked as a central location – after his first exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1970. He spent quite a bit of time here (in Minneapolis) and taught a summer course at MCAD.

overlooking the beer garden
These are original Frank Lloyd Wright windows from The Little House in Wayzata. They were sold to us by a building mover who was helping us with the structural change to make our entrance accessible. They found their way to the east wall when we built the beer garden. We wanted windows on that wall so people could sit in the bar and see out to the beer garden.

beer steins

on a high shelf above the windows
We are displaying only a part of our collection of beer kitsch and memorabilia. We’ve gotten most of the mugs and glassware from the beer distributors.

with mini Löwenbräu kegs
Löwenbräu was one of the first import beers available in the Twin Cities and we were one of the first restaurants to offer imported beer to our customers. The Löwenbräu cart was a gift from the sales representative. Sadly, since then the swag from beer and liquor companies has gotten a lot less interesting.

One of several in the restaurant, this one has seen better days. It used to be that tanning and taxidermy were done with arsenic, so this poor guy is not only dead, he was probably poisoned, too.

The painting work on the ceiling was done by Judy Kjenstad. She took a more understated approach to the bar area (see above).

The photo was taken on October 15, 1963 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. during the DAR convention. It shows ten women in the process of breaking a pose. They are dressed in gowns and draped in sashes. The sashes are adorned with pins and ribbons; these show rank in the Daughters of the American Revolution organization and were received for various charitable works.

There are two bullet holes in the photo. In February of 1986, at lunchtime, the photo was shot by a man sitting at the bar. He was shooting at the photo; though the restaurant was full, there were no people near the photo at the time. He fired three shots, one missed the photo. As one could guess, chaos erupted. The man walked out of the restaurant and down to the police station to turn himself in. He was fined, given probation, and lost his gun collection to the state.

The wall next to the photo was repaired right away. Many historically minded friends of the business advised the owners to leave the bullet holes in the photo rather than have it repaired. It immediately became the most looked at, touched, and asked about piece of artwork in the restaurant. Though the bullet holes seriously damaged the resale value of the photo, they have added immeasurable value to the story of our restaurant. The incident now has a place in local lore and the photo provokes questions and conversation in everyone who sees it.

For more information see:
Richard Avedon
Secrets Of The City

An interesting side story: The bar used to face the other way so when someone walked in the door they were standing at the bar and there was a small dining area on the other side of the bar. When we purchased the lot next door and drew up the plans for the beer garden, we decided to remodel the bar and the small dining room at the same time. We purchased a new bar and did much of the installation and building work ourselves on the bar, walls and beer garden. When the wall on which the Avedon photo now hangs was being rebuilt (the bathrooms were expanded to be accessible), we had a visit from the building inspector after the lathe was put up. The inspector informed us that we had hung the lathe backwards and it would have to be re-done before it could be plastered. Rather than tear it down, we decided to put up a whole extra layer of lathe – the right way – in front of the first layer. Ten years later the walls were put to the test and found to be bulletproof!

If it is summer and you are sitting in our beer garden you will see:

This sculpture was created by Charles Huntington for the Black Forest Inn, for the spot on which it stands. General Mills is the home to a sculpture of a similar shape, though that one is larger and orange. Chuck has been working in stainless steel sculpture for over 40 years.

with her back to 26th Street
This sculpture is the work of local artist (and onetime employee) Bruce Thomas. The sculpture has been a resident of the beer garden since its opening. Bruce’s work is in many local collections and he has a number of other public art projects around Minnesota. He is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Hamline University.

copper frog

on the edge of the fountain
This frog is at home in the water! It is the work of Beryl Hamilton Wells. She is a sculptor and artist whose recent works are mostly copper, stainless steel and ink drawings.

For more information see:

bottle in wall

mortared into the wall outside the banquet space
It is, after all, a beer garden. The men responsible for this are masonry and brickwork specialists, David Hartig and his father, the late Mike Hartig.

If you are a longtime customer you will remember these pieces that have adorned the walls of the smaller dining room in the past:

The German inscription on this print reads:

"Who does not love wine, women and song / Stays a fool his life long".

This quote is often falsely attributed to Martin Luther, who famously challenged the Catholic church (the only church at the time) with his 99 theses. The defenders of the church came up with many and varied ways to discredit him, one of which was characterizing him as a debauched playboy, complete with quotes. They did not entirely fail in discrediting him, but they did fail to head off the schism that became the Reformation.

This is a 19th Century print that was a typical decoration in a middle class home. The print came from the Holzermann Collection. The Holzermann family had a German shop on Cedar Avenue for decades. There were several mansions in the family and the estates were sold off through the store. All of the Holzermanns were collectors as well, and the shop was truly a treasure trove of antiques, collectibles and rarities. At various times the shop offered a suit of armor from the Crusades, and entire set of Bavarian Inn furniture, a medieval monastery bedroom set, mummy wrappings, toys, music boxes, prints, ornaments and jewelry.

We have a number of prints and collectibles from the Holzermann shop, including a print of Bismarck, a print of Kaiser Wilhelm, the panels of German man and German woman on the bathroom doors, a stuffed ram's head, and many, many other prints, some dating back to the 15th century.

Currently in the spot above the last booth, next to the kitchen door, we have a painted panel that says "B.F. Guten Appetit". In the past, this spot was host to a rotating selection of movie and music posters. We had a poster of Das Boot up in this spot for a long time. We were a sponsor of the 1997 Rivertown Film Festival during which the director's cut of Das Boot was shown, so we were given the poster as a token of their appreciation. Our other film poster is of der Blaue Engel (the Blue Angel) with Marlene Dietrich. This is not an original film poster but a nice reissue. We also have a "Marlene" concert poster. Our other music poster is a Rolling Stones poster for their 1972 tour.

by the entrance, below the clock
This plaque was given to owner Erich Christ by the family of Dale Dettman. Dale worked for the Black Forest Inn for 25 years. He helped build the beer garden, the bar, the booths in the back of the big dining room, and many other large and small projects. The only times we have closed on a day that was not a major holiday was once for two days in the seventies after a kitchen fire and for an afternoon memorial service for Dale. The plaque featured a tape measure and a pair of pliers in a holder. Someone stole the pliers out of the holder so we took the plaque down and keep it in back.

You may also remember these items that hung in the bar area:

This print of an All Hallow's Eve celebration hung in the bar for many years. This also came from the Holzermann collection (see above).

The Black Forest Inn is an "un-named comet" in the Community Solar System, the World’s Largest Scale Model of the Solar System (according to the Guinness Book of World’s Records). Begun by a high school science teacher in Peoria, Illinois, the Community Solar System has the dome of the planetarium at the Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences in Peoria as its sun. The planets are scattered around in Peoria area businesses and there are unnamed comets all over the world. The proceeds from the "registration fee" benefit the museum.

These were given to us sometime in the early 90s by a fan of the Black Forest. It should be apparent by now that we totally lack an acquisition plan and have enjoyed the good work, good ideas and good taste of our friends and fans over the years.

iron lamp over door
castle mural
Goethe poem over windows
bronze deer head sign
nature scene painting
brick archg
Tiffany light fixture
Frank Stone light fixture
Dining room panels
Panel detail by Jack Barkla
coffee sign
castle shield
bear shield
lion shield
3 lions shield
blackbird shield
horse shield
griffin shield
key shield
tri-panel shield
eagle with cross shield
seven stars shield
mural detail
Avedon photo
beer steins
copper frog
bottle in wall